Category Archives: library

Posts about libraries or library science

Diverse Books and Social Spaces

School is almost back in session. We’re in the final countdown PD days, as many teachers are. Some are back in the classroom already!

In preparation for a new year, I’m creating a book order list of diverse books. Diverse can mean skin color, socioeconomic status, gender identity, immigrant status, orientation, and numerous other definitions and combinations thereof. Basically, my students fit into multiple labels and I need books to reflect that. I’ve been looking through award winners and blogs (if you haven’t seen We Need Diverse Books, go look) and trying to curate the perfect list of mostly new books that fall into these labels.

In thinking about books for my students, I also think about the social space of the library. I have a teacher who always reminds her students to come ask me about audiobooks. I can get access to many audiobooks to help my students. But they’re often anxious about coming in and asking. Maybe it is because this is only going to be my second year and they don’t know me yet. I always feel like I’m approachable. I have pink hair! How can I not be? But I understand the difficultly in coming to speak to someone. I don’t always like speaking to people either.

I start this year wondering: how can I help make the library be a comfortable social and educational space for my students?

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Purple walls make everything prettier

The building my school is in has been through many incarnations. It started as a wool factory. It’s been three or four different schools; in fact, three at one time for a year. Apparently, back in the mid-90s when my school was temporarily placed here (“temporarily”), the library walls were painted white.

I call them “cream” now to make myself feel better about this weird color.

Last week, we were lucky enough to get volunteers from Serve with Liberty to come in, donate their time, and paint one wall and two tables (wall is purple, tables are whiteboard paint).

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It looks SO MUCH BETTER. Every time I see it, I smile.

I have ideas for new signage now too, maybe pretty block letters with fabric. We’ll see how creative I get.

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The Problems with Dewey

I’d known that the Dewey system was biased. Mr. Dewey was American, white, male, Christian, born in NY, and educated at Amherst College in MA.

As an example, this is a brief rundown of the 200s section, Religion:

200 Religion
210 Philosophy & theory (216, which is no longer used, was “Evil”)
220 The Bible
230 Christianity
240 Christian practice & observance
250 Christian orders & local church
260 Social & ecclesiastical theology
270 History of Christianity
280 Christian denomination
290 Other religions

Did you see that? 290 is “Other religions.” In a brief division of a religion section, you find:

292 Classical religion (Greek & Roman)
293 Germanic religion
294 Religions of Indian origin (Dharmic faiths)
295 Zoroastrianism
296 Judaism
297 Islam, Babism & Baha’i
298 is no longer used, but was Mormonism
299 Religions not provided for elsewhere

Really??

Never mind that there used to be a call number specifically for “mental derangements” (130), “education of women” (376), “outcast studies” (397, which I’m sure was great next to folklore in 398).

I think my point is that the Dewey system is flawed.

Furthermore, a Dewey number can be very simple (i.e. 500 COHEN is my call number for The Best of the Best American Scientific Writing) or can be very long (i.e., 331.892829225209712743090511 which belongs to a subject called “Buhler Versatile Inc. Strike, Winnipeg, Man., 2000-2001” according to The Dewey Blog). I don’t even have a spine label big enough for that.

 

 

 

 

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Star Wars!

I saw Star Wars. I will not post spoilers (other than the above GIF, which isn’t really a spoiler). I will just say that I loved the movie and it was very pretty. I’m sad that the EU has been regaled to “Legacy”/what-if, but I also understand the reasoning. The EU had a lot of story and conflicting plots, so Disney has streamlined it. However, I will always love Karen Traviss’ novels and they are still true canon in my mind.

It is winter break and I’ve once again caught a cold. I know it is the result of lots of contact with people (students, teachers, commuters…) and my system finally going “ok, we don’t have to do anything, we can take a break now.” This results in lots of tea, a couple days in pjs, and catching up on my reading. If I wasn’t coughing, it would be nicer.

I have a Funds4Books fundrasier up! Please spread the word. 

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Things I Learned During My First Semester of Teaching Undergraduates

Love it, and it applies to high school students too!

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Despite having spent a lot of time in classrooms (a heck of a lot of time in classrooms), the fall semester of 2015 may well have been the semester in which I learned the most while sitting in a classroom. Incidentally, it was also the first semester in which I found myself sitting at the front of the classroom facing the inquisitive eyes (and blank stares) of undergraduates.

For this fall semester I had the privilege of working as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for an introductory course on media studies – and in this position one of my responsibilities was teaching two recitation/discussion sections. At the outset let me state emphatically that I found it to be a highly interesting and  rewarding experience and that I think I made a pretty good TA (the students refrained from pelting me with chalk and tried to be subtle about using Facebook in…

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Five Things Library School Should Teach, But Doesn’t

With a new title and new school, I’ve also inherited interns. These are three Simmons GSLIS students, as I was just a few years ago when Debbie took me under her wing. Two are School Library Teacher Program students like I was, and one is dual-degree MS/MFA with a focus on youth services. In my month+ of being at BAA with these interns, I’ve remembered and realized some things that I did not know when I was in GSLIS that I’ve learned in two+ years beyond Simmons:

 

How to cover books:

This seems like something simple. I’ll admit, I learned this skill back in high school when I worked as a student in my high school library. Back then, learned how to cover both paperback books and hardcover books. Covering paperback books is a pain I never want to inflict on anyone. Paperback book covers are basically clear, sticky plastic that you have to cut and place gently onto books and then quickly, but sure-handedly, apply to the entire cover: front, spine, and back. You then need to trim it just enough and cut the corners so you can fold over the excess and secure it onto the inside of the front and back covers. Then you have to push out the bubbles; because you’re going to get bubbles. It is not easy.

Hardcover book covers are a little easier. They are pieces of clear plastic connected to a paper backing, usually along one edge. You trim them to fit your dust-jacket, fold them in the appropriate places, and tape them to the book jacket. You then put this covered book jacket back onto the book and secure it.

Honestly, if you really suck at putting on covers, most book companies will cover books for you, for a price. And you still have to cover any books you get that are donations. Learn to do it!

Protective book cover (from  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmeuXCTeS1c) 

Processing books in general should be a class, but covering books is a special problem that is never mentioned.

How to refill a stamp pad:

Refilling stamp pads is a crucial skill. We buy stamps with the library name, or due date stamps, and the self-inking type is really the best. No separate stamp pads to keep track of. However, ink will eventually run out and you need to be able to refill the pads. Firstly, you have to learn how to take out the stamp pad. Every self-inking stamp is different, but usually, there is some way to “lock” the stamp in place so you can slide out the ink pad. Don’t forget to buy refill ink! Be careful, don’t rush, and don’t put too much ink on the ink pad. You will never refill it without getting some ink on you, but if you are careful, it will only get on your fingers and not everywhere else too.

ExcelMark self-inking replacement instructions

How to budget (if you have one):

Budgets are funny things. In schools, you’re probably lucky if you have one. If you do have one, it is highly recommended that you spend it fairly quickly. Budgets may, depending on the district, disappear by March, when everyone else needs funding for something that they didn’t plan for. Plan for what you need, spend your budget, and then ask for more. Also, always have a wish list of books/supplies/etc. You never know when you’ll be told “You have 2 hours to spend $1,000 or else it is gone.”

I highly recommend book subscription services, like Junior Library Guild. You don’t get to pick what books you get, but you do get to pick the genre. For example, JLG has multiple YA levels and genres, like “Fantasy High,” “History High,” etc., and many of the books they select go on to win awards. I like them, especially for fiction picks.

Basic Cataloging Etiquette:

MARC records are a language of their own.  I can glean information from it and I understand that I shouldn’t ever edit it because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not a cataloger. I love when books have the Dewey number with the bibliographic information.

Some systems are lax on their records, some are strict. Get a feeling for your system/district and pay attention to what the catalog people tell you. If you are the only librarian at your school, then learn what district protocols are for records. If you ever have to create bibliographic records, and not just adding copies to a record, import the Z-source with the most information and make sure that the ISBN, publisher name, and publishing date are all the same.

If there is someone in charge of bibliographic recordsnever make them mad. If you do not have the power to create records, the person who does create them deserves your respect, or at least your thanks.

Beyond Basic Technology Skills:

Everything is tech-based now. I was super lucky and took two online classes at Simmons with the epic Linda Braun. She’s a past president of YALSA, writer for School Library Journal, tech savvy, and a fantastic person to get into a Twitter argument with about if the phrase “Search our Shelves” is outdated in a virtual learning commons world. I loved her classes, hated getting stumped with CSS, and think everyone should have to take as aggressive of a class as she taught, even though I know I complained about the classes at the time and nearly didn’t take her summer advanced class because she’s intense.

I know I love technology. I’d rather play around with new software and try to break it before asking for help. Being in library science, you don’t need to be a wiz at all tech. I don’t always stay up to date on social media stuff. I like Facebook and Tumblr, even though “kids these days” are saying that Facebook isn’t cool (well, it isn’t. Not when their parents and teachers are on it). But, it is very important to realize that being a librarian means you have to be competent with some basic tech: Google Drive; Microsoft Office (Word, Outlook, and Excel, at least); whatever cataloging software you inherit; and some form of social media so you can at least try to make connections.

If you really suck at technology, make friends with the tech department at the school or branch you wind up at. They can help! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even from patrons and/or students.

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Thoughts on having a long name

I have a very long last name with a unique spelling. Whenever I need to spell my last name for someone, I chunk it into 2-letter pieces, or else they miss a letter.  In fact, it is such a unique spelling, that I’ve encountered two people with the same spelling and one turned out to be related to me. I didn’t check the other one because she was a student at the time and wasn’t in contact with her family. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is related to my family as well.

As a teacher, it is a hard name for students to remember and pronounce (it is a hard name for everyone to pronounce). At my current school, students are encouraged to remember teacher names and pronounce them correctly. This makes sense, in that students will be going into the *real world* fairly soon and will encounter lots of different names. However, I’ve been “Ms. D” for two years at my former school and I don’t want to be called anything else. I like being called “Ms. D.” The only time this will change is when I eventually get my doctorate, whenever that is since I haven’t even started yet, and become “Dr. D.”

I think of this as a lesson; it is a lesson in respecting wishes and respecting what people want to be known as. We all go out and “make a name for ourselves” in some way. This is my very literal version.

 

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